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We the People and the Others: The Co-founding of Democratic States

By Hans Agné


In democratic theory it goes without saying that people should establish their own politicalorders.1 Perhaps the most famous expression of this moral intuition is found in the preambleof the American constitution. By the opening phrase ‘we the people … establish thisconstitution’ the founders sent a message to revolutionary movements throughout the worldthat people may establish not only the rights and obligations that will regulate their public life,i.e. their own constitutions, but also the organisations which will exercise supreme power over the territories in which they live, i.e. their own states. However, the making of new states, ornew constitutions in existing states, sometimes involves people with no intention ofsubjecting themselves to the political orders that they seek to establish. The US-led impositionof new regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq is one example and the UN administration of postconflictsocieties in Kosovo and East Timor is another (Zaum 2007). Could such policies bereconciled with the idea that people should establish their own political orders?economics; democracy; law; diversity/homogeneity

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